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Iraq’s incoming prime minister is under fire

Iraq’s incoming prime minister will face “hell” and be removed within days if he includes members of the political elite in his cabinet, a top aide to cleric Moqtada Sadr has warned.

Premier-designate Mohammad Allawi has until March 2 to form a new cabinet, to be put to the protest-rocked country’s parliament for a vote of confidence.

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators have already rejected his nomination as prime minister.

Sadr, a former militia leader with millions of devoted followers across the country, first backed the rallies but split with the movement by endorsing Allawi last week.

Kadhem Issawi, a senior advisor to Sadr, insisted the new cabinet must not include members of the political elite, particularly Shiite military groups like the powerful Hashed al-Shaabi network, which rivals Sadr.

On the other hand, demonstration swept the southern city of Basra, on February 6, as they buried seven fellow activists killed overnight in violence blamed on supporters of Moqtada Sadr, who raided a protest camp in Iraq’s shrine city of Najaf late on February 5.

Sader’s supporters, usually identified in protest squares by their blue caps, have raided rival demonstrators and the ensuing violence has left eight anti-government activists dead over the last week.